The northern German city of Lübeck offers ample reasons to visit. Not only is it one of the most romantic towns in Germany and the best place to learn about the Hanseatic League, it also boasts beautiful medieval architecture, abundant culture, and delicious marzipan treats. Here’s why you need to go at least once in your lifetime.
Stunning medieval architecture
The 15th century red brick Gothic structure, Holstentor, is the icon of Lübeck. This gate, with a unique architecture of cylindrical towers and an arched entrance, is a remnant of ancient fortifications and marks the former center of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Lübeck Old Town. Today, it houses a museum dedicated to the history of the city.
Burgtor, another ancient gate guarding the former north entrance of the city is also worth visiting, though often overshadowed by the more famous Holstentor. Lübeck’s Town Hall is unanimously agreed to be among the most beautiful and largest town halls in Germany, while in the Old Town, you can also see a series of gabled houses, many of which have a ‘crow-stepped’ style of architecture.
Another stunning landmark of the city is the 13th century Heiligen-Geist-Hospital, which was one of the first social institutions in the world. Originally built as a hospital for the poor, it served as a retirement home during the Reformation. Today, it is open to public tours and hosts a popular arts and crafts market during the Christmas season.
The skyline of Lübeck is graced by a series of beautiful churches. The main church of the city is the UNESCO-listed 12th century brick Gothic Lutheran Lübeck Cathedral, with twin spires that tower over the Old Town.
Anther notable church in the city is the 13th century Gothic St. Mary’s Church, with seven towers that mark the skyline of Lübeck. Its stained-glass windows depict unusual macabre art. The church has a statue of the Devil, who is believed to have unwittingly helped in building the church. Don’t miss the broken bells lying in a heap on the church floor, which have been left as a memorial to the destruction caused by Allied bombings during World War II.
Other noteworthy churches in the city include the 12th century Petrichurch, the 14th century red brick Gothic church Sankt Jakobi, and the smallest church in the city – St. Aegidien Kirche.
If you like marzipan, Lübeck is the place to indulge in it. Lübeck has a famed marzipan industry that dates back hundreds of years. The 212-year-old Café Niederegger serves 100% pure marzipan (with no additives) and a host of delicious marzipan-infused treats, including tarts, cakes, beverages, liqueur and chocolates. Do try their most famous treat, the nut cake. It is also the perfect place to pick up authentic foodie souvenirs for loved ones back home. The main café is right in the city center, while there are also several branches in the city.
Café Niederegger – Breite Straße 89, Lübeck, Germany, +49 4515 3011 27
Getting lost in the by-lanes of Lübeck is the stuff a true wanderer’s dreams are made of. You never know when you will find yourself in a hidden cobbled courtyard in the midst of adorable colorful houses, where time seems to have stood still.
The chance to learn about the Hanseatic League
Lübeck is the former capital and Queen City of the Hanseatic League, and is often referred to as the cradle of the Hanseatic League. From its foundation in the 12th century till the 16th century, Lübeck was a significant hub of maritime commerce and trading in Northern Europe. European Hansemuseum in Lübeck provides the largest and the most comprehensive source of information about the Hanseatic League in the world.
Scattered around Lübeck, you can also find various other monuments dedicated to the city’s rich maritime history. One of these is Passat, one of the last-surviving windjammers (long-distance cargo ships from the 19th-20th centuries). At the Museumshafen zu Lübeck, you can see a series of 20 historic ships, ranging from the 15th to the 20th centuries.
To learnt more about Lübeck’s maritime history, visitors can check out the Fehmarnbelt Lightship, a ship built in 1906-08 and preserved in working condition. Don’t miss the Salzspeicher, a row of six brick houses by the river next to the Holstentor, which were used to stock salt before export. This, apart from being achingly picturesque, is of special historic importance as a booming salt trade was one of the reasons that Lübeck flourished economically.
Sun and sea
A mere 20 km (12.4 miles) from Lübeck city center, you can feel sand beneath your toes! Timmendorfer Strand offers a 7km (4 miles) stretch of soft sand, an aquarium, gorgeous views and excellent water sports opportunities. A travel agency called TravelBird recently conducted a study of 250 amazing beaches across 66 countries, and the Timmendorfer Strand was found to be the most affordable beach in Europe. Within a 30-minute drive from Lübeck is another fantastic beach called Travemünde. It is always manned by lifeguards and is extremely clean and safe, making it a popular choice for locals.
Lübeck’s range of interesting museums ensures that a generous dose of culture is always within reach. Literature enthusiasts will appreciate the Buddenbrook House housed in an elegant Baroque building that in itself is an architectural landmark. In this museum, visitors can learn about the renowned novel The Buddenbrooks by Nobel laureate Thomas Mann, and discover more about the eventful life of the Mann family. This building was also the set for the movie adaptation of the book.
Günter Grass-House is another fantastic literature and fine arts museum dedicated to Nobel laureate Günter Grass, a gifted writer, painter, sculptor and graphic artist. The museum showcases around 1,300 pieces of his work.
At the Border Documentation Site, meanwhile, you can learn all about Lübeck’s history as the only city on the former border between East and West Germany.
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